The transition from an Elementary school to Middle School does not just befall the student. Parents are affected as well, not simply in terms of location but in terms of a new set of dynamics for your student’s learning environment and for those who support them, like the PTA. Logistics are different. Students will no longer have one classroom and teacher, they will have a handful and a handy locker all of their own to keep organized and clean. Do we all remember those locker lock combinations?
Here is a simple overview of some of the similarities and differences for a PTA parent when your student moves onto Middle School.
What Stays The Same
In many regards, the mission of a PTA remains the same: to support the student. In any school, PTA’s will raise money, organize volunteers for a variety of activities, and improve communication between all parties. PTA’s are also major players in Teacher appreciation activities and student parties, like Back-To-School nights and festivals throughout the year. Most PTA’s meet monthly and distribute some type of newsletter. Many are using email, social media and digital formats to update on activities. Some districts spend time translating the messages for non-English speaking families.
What is Different
There are a number of marked differences in PTA activities from Elementary to Middle School.
The format of your PTA might be different. Your school’s organization could be a PTO or an HSA or PCC. Basically, a PTA member pays dues and the group is part of a State and National organization, an umbrella organization that provides guidelines and bylaws. In contrast, PTO’s operate independently and may or may not have dues and are not affiliated with a larger entity. (For more see this article on PTO vs PTA.) In short, pay attention to whether your organization’s format is changing.
The age range of students in Elementary school is diverse, and so are the programs that are offered. In general, it seems like PTA’s in Elementary schools take on projects that can appeal to all age ranges in different ways at different stages of their education… environmental programs like a school garden or recycling, for instance.
The Elementary School PTA might support field trips and playground equipment, items that aren’t as necessary for Middle School students. Middle School PTA’s might facilitate more social activities like dances or sports rallies. Technology might play a more important role for learning in middle schools, thus PTA’s might help raise funds for a computer lab, projectors or other tech items. In short, be prepared for your mission to change a little to support different programs.
An important aspect of all PTA’s is communication. An elementary school PTA may focus on street crossing safety while a Middle School PTA might research and circulate suggested guidelines for internet safety.
Movie nights are popular “FUN”d raisers for PTA’s at the Elementary age; Finding Nemo and 101 Dalmatians are always hits. But for a middle school aged crowd, movies with a message are becoming more popular. Bully and Super Size Me both have serious messages to teach youth and parents alike. In short, make sure your messaging is growing with your youngsters.
Middle School PTA’s are in a position to mentor newer Elementary PTA’s for assistance and to simply make the transition for students and parents easier. Some may share volunteers or fundraising experience.
Men’s subcommittees of Middle School PTA’s are prevalent, more so than in Elementary schools. Men simply want to be more involved in their students learning. A group of fathers might lead a kayaking outing, a hiking trip or organize the holiday toy drive. In short, be prepared for more parent involvement, which is always a good thing!
Interest and involvement in your student’s learning process is the most important component to success, and PTA participation is a great way to stay involved. Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School is simply a part of the growing up process… for both you and your student. Keep in mind these few reminders to help ensure that you have a happy and healthy school year.
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